So it’s World Autism day on the 2nd of April and the entire month will be dedicated to raising awareness for a condition very close to my heart.
I have already read a few awareness post on some of my favorite blogs, I sat brainstorming about my own post for the day. It was only then I realised that everyday is world autism day in our house! It’s not only through this blog that I find myself trying to raise awareness by putting our story out there for the world to see, but I’m doing it through the social networking that I do such as Twitter and facebook. Even off line I’m doing the same, often without even knowing it.
Of course this won’t stop me trying to make some kind of impact on the day. I’m a firm believer that two voices are better then one (not that there’s only two voices but you know what I mean!)
If everyone’s life was touched by autism the world would be a more understanding place, but it isn’t and sadly that means that more often then not, those it don’t affect just don’t think about, the perception they have is pretty far off from the reality of the condition. These people can be educated but only if willing.
Then there is those that don’t believe, a big problem with some of the older generation which is mainly due to the fact such a condition wasn’t heard of when they were growing up, quite often making it come across as a load of meaningless gibberish. This is not just their view on autism but an array of conditions such as ADHD, Anxiety disorders, any condition that affects a persons emotions and behaviour etc. I’ve been told more then once by an elderly person that my son needs a smacked bottom in order to change his ways. An elderly lady on the bus recently told my son during a meltdown that if she acted like he currently was when she was a child her father would have taken the belt to her backside! My son didn’t have a clue what she was talking about and when he told her so she reacted by telling him he was a cheeky bugger, which really didn’t help! Yes, I was furious but I have to reason with myself that actually many of these people don’t know anything different. Your brought up a certain way, or go through a huge proportion of your life only seeing challenging behaviour as bad behaviour, that’s something that is incredibly hard to change! It makes you wonder how many off these people are actually on the spectrum themselves but just don’t know it.
Looking at the world ten years ago and looking at it now it’s fair to say awareness towards autism has come a long way! However looking at the high number of families battling against the system while being judged by fellow shoppers at the supermarket as a result of their child’s very public meltdown, it’s clear to see we still have a long way to go!
It is my believe that creating awareness for those considered to be at the ‘higher’ end of the autism spectrum will be somewhat harder to achieve. Those like my son who have a diagnosis of ‘Aspergers’ or ‘HF’ autism, will always have to fight that little bit harder for recognition. The fact that those with such a diagnosis are able to verbally communicate and have average to high IQ’s leads them to be misunderstood, looked upon as misbehaving and attention seeking. It’s my personal opinion that some (of course not all) parents to a child diagnosed as being on the ‘lower’ end of the spectrum are the ones that often show a degree of ignorance towards a child/adult further along that same spectrum. I remember attending a meeting held by our local autism support group. I asked a question concerning the criteria for admission to an asd specific school that was being built in the area. To my horror a fellow parent stood up and stated that children like mine shouldn’t be considered for a place as they were needed for those that truly needed them. This parent didn’t know me, had never met my child, all she knew about my child was the fact he had a diagnosis of aspergers due to my brief introduction of myself when first joining the group some few weeks before. I later discovered that her child was in a special school and doing OK, where’s my son had no school that could meet his complex needs and in actual fact if pursued would more likely be offered a place then that of her own child. I sat through the remainder of that meeting wondering how many other mothers shared this same view? Thinking about it, the majority of parents that I would often speak to within the group had children with a diagnosis of AS or HF autism, it just goes to show how misunderstood these diagnosis’s actually are!
Every individual on the spectrum is different, each will carry their own set of traits, Little mans being his difficulties with social communication and interaction, social imagination and literal understanding of language, and his sensory processing! Where’s another child may have fewer difficulties within these areas but have more profound difficulties with language skills, learning disabilities, personal care etc, It just depends!
Though each person with autism will have symptoms within the the same triad of impairments, those symptoms will vary from one person to the next. Each person has their own set of traits that defines their autism which makes up only one part of who they are. We all have our own personality and characteristics that define us and that’s the same for everyone even those with autism no matter what kind of autism that happens to be!